Studying? Cheating? Why Both Represent the Status Quo

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David Warlick wrote a blog this past weekend, Games • Learning • Society [classroom strategy guides?], in which he discussed gaming, the use of cheat sites by gamers (kids) and the obvious question of whether this phenomena has any implications for school.

“It occurred to me that study guides for tests are a lot like strategy guides for video games,” wrote Mr. Warlick.

My response may seem a bit radical…

Studying, which in school parlance really means memorizing, is based on the assumption that learning is unnatural. This is categorically untrue.

“Learning” a computer game cheat code from a web site is a very low-level of learning. It’s just looking something up, like much of what schools misrepresent as student research. This activity bares little resemblance to “studying” the violin or “studying” to be a brain surgeon.

Some educators marvel or recoil at students finding cheat codes on the web, but that’s only because ingenuity is so rare within the school curriculum. Classroom mischief may offer the richest or exclusive contexts for ingenuity.

If school wasn’t based on right and wrong answers, studying would be unnecessary.

Cheating is only necessary when it’s viable. Assessment schemes, like tests, are only necessary when teachers are not respected and when teachers don’t trust their own instincts.

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